Nila Sweeney

Brisbane’s inner-city unit market continues to supply pockets of suburbs that are highly undervalued and provide perfect targets for first homebuyers who are potentially owner-occupiers or investors.

Located right near the South East Busway and the Pacific Motorway, and just 6km from the Brisbane CBD, lies an area to watch – according to Cameron Kusher, senior research analyst, RP Data. "As it's a very well-established residential area, for it to have a median unit price that's still under $300,000 is surprising. It's one
of my top picks."

Although there aren't a lot of units in the Tarragindi area, the rental market is strong with a weekly median advertised rent of $350, against a median unit price of just $298,450, according to RP Data September 2008.

Tarragindi has its own cluster of small shops, although residents usually prefer to travel to larger retail offerings in the nearby suburbs of Annerley and Moorooka.

Just 6km from the CBD lies Wooloowin, another popular suburb that is ideal for first homebuyers searching for an inner-city bargain. It's right next to the expensive suburbs of Ascot and Gladesville and benefits from their prime amenities.

"Wooloowin has two train stations and easy access to major roads leading into the CBD," explains Kusher. "It is also next door to Albion where there is a lot of gentrification going on at the moment."

Kusher says areas like Tarragindi and Wooloowin remain affordable for first homebuyers thanks to the limited number of new stock and abundance of older-type 1970s and eighties-style blocks to be found there. In suburbs like these, you are likely to get a one-bedroom unit (and sometimes, two) in a three- or four-storey walk-up building for around $300,000.

Public transport around Nundah is plentiful, thanks to its own train station and others in the surrounding suburbs of Toombul and Northgate. Residents have a short drive to the arterial Gateway Motorway (M1), leading them directly into the Brisbane CBD and linking the city with the Sunshine and Gold Coasts.

The suburb also has easy access to Airport Drive as it lies on the western side of Brisbane airport.

Nundah is only about 10 minutes’ drive from the amenity-rich and popular suburb of Chermside, and around the same distance from The Prince Charles Hospital. The nearby suburb of Nudgee also gives Nundah residents a beach and a golf course, both within about a five- or 10-minute drive.

Kusher says the relatively affordable suburbs of Annerley and Nundah are happily bucking the trend in their area – and undergoing quite a bit of redevelopment at the moment.

"Nundah has a vast amount of older stock, but new stock and retail are also coming in," he says. "This suburb is just 9km from the CBD and has great retail amenities. It is also very close to the Australian Catholic University, with a train station and strong rental markets."

Albion is just 4km north of Brisbane city and has good train access to the CBD. As traffic congestion in Brisbane gets worse, these train lines are becoming more and more important to residents working in the city – and this is now even more evident in the amount of interest in suburbs like Albion.

Peter Koulizos, The Property School lecturer, property investor and author of The Property Professor's Top Australian Suburbs, says Albion benefits from neighbouring million-dollar suburbs like Ascot, Hamilton and Newstead.

The suburb is also known for providing homeowners and investors with good remodelling prospects.

"Albion is great renovation territory because of the older-style art deco units and timber-framed homes," Koulizos states. "Around 43% of the dwellings in Albion are freestanding houses, so there is higher percentage of units – which is great for investors."

Many of the affordable sectors in Brisbane's inner areas have benefited from the ripple effect from surrounding prime areas – and Herston is no exception. It is just 2km from the CBD and adjacent to the prime suburb of Spring Hill, where median unit prices are about $10,000 higher. Herston provides first homebuyers with the opportunity to purchase at lower prices and still reap the benefits that Spring Hill has to offer.

Similar to Spring Hill, Herston is full of beautiful old cottages and Queenslanders – which are in high demand and great for renovating.

If you're looking to buy a unit in Herston, Koulizos recommends watching out for a building with a view of the city or close to parks and open spaces.

"This is a drawcard for families and can offer great potential for investors in the future," explains Koulizos.

"One of the other big assets for Herston is the number of medical facilities in the area. There is Royal Brisbane Hospital, Royal Women’s Hospital and Royal Children’s Hospital, and then the University of Queensland Medical School," he adds.

These amenities not only provide plenty of opportunity for employment but also lots of potential tenants for investors. However, he suggests avoiding buying property along Herston Road, as it's noisier and therefore tends not to be as popular.

The unit market in Sydney is traditionally the preserve of those wanting to spend $500,000 and above. Although, looking closely at it today, we can see that there are still some areas of interest for first homebuyers wanting to buy one at rock-bottom prices.

Greenwich is located just across the Harbour from Sydney city, near North Sydney and Crows Nest, presenting buyers with an alternative to the immediate inner-city regions. It is still close by, at just 4km from the CBD.

"Greenwich has a lot of offices, so you can live and work there at the same time. It also has a range of bars and restaurants, and the café-style atmosphere that young people like is right at your fingertips," says Kusher.

Many properties in Greenwich would have a view of the water around Cockatoo Island and Goat Island – especially those located along Greenwich Road, down towards Shell Park and Banns Point Park.

The nearest train station is off Shirley Road in neighbouring Wollstonecraft, but Greenwich has adequate private and public bus services for local residents and visitors to the area. On top of all this, there is also a local ferry service that goes to Balmain and Woolwich.

Greenwich is within striking distance of Sydney's second-biggest employment hub, North Sydney, and the Royal North Shore Hospital in the nearby residential and business suburb of St Leonards.

Greenwich has many traditions such as the Greenwich Village Games that have been held every Olympic year since 1988.

The suburbs of Greenwich and Darlington are both surprisingly affordable but, according to Kusher, buyers should know that the stock in these areas tend to be older blocks of units. Staying optimistic however, if you have a penchant for DIY renovating, there is potential value to added to many of them.

Both Greenwich and Darlington have a unit market with a median price less than $340,000, but stock is usually restricted to one-bedroom apartments. Nevertheless, these properties are in ideal locations – and just a stone's throw away from Sydney's CBD. They both also have good transport infrastructure supporting their property markets.

Darlington has excellent access to the Princes Highway via Parramatta Road and it is located just 4km from Sydney CBD. It is also within walking distance of the University of Sydney and the local Broadway shopping centre, where most of the amenities are located – along with 169 specialty stores.

Darlington is within five minutes' walk from nearby Redfern train station and has bus services running at all times of the day within a two or three minute walk of City Road and Cleveland Streets. And, to top it all off, city and suburban bus services and the central train station are within 10 minutes' walk – hence Darlington's popularity among young renting professionals and university students.

Kusher says Darlington is primarily comprised of semidetached (terrace-style) housing which accounts for three out of every four dwellings in the suburb.

"The remaining housing is almost entirely units – which account for 24% of all dwellings," explains Kusher.

"The rental market in this area is very active with almost 60% of properties in the area rented."

If you're looking to buy in Darlington, however, distance yourself somewhat from railway lines and also the Princes Highway. Kusher also advises purchasers to avoid buying near 'The Block' to the north-east of the suburb as it adjoins the neighbouring suburb of Redfern. Streets like Abercrombie and Sheppard are popular as they are further away from Redfern and tend to be wider.

Kusher also recommends the ultra-popular suburb of Newtown, which – surprisingly – has a median unit price of just $340,000. Again, these units are likely to be older-style character buildings with one bedroom only. But, if you can buy anywhere close to the action streets in Newtown – like King Street – you’ve got yourself an unbeatable deal.

"Newtown has the 'alternative' drawcard which has quite a substantial appeal to many renters and investors," explains Kusher.

Newtown is located around 5km from Sydney’s CBD and it is surrounded by the popular and much-frequented suburbs of Darlington, Erskineville and Enmore.

Newtown has its own train station, located off King Street, as well as excellent bus services which pass through the suburb frequently, making it very accessible to residents and visitors.

Newtown's King Street formed the first major shopping district outside Sydney’s CBD and, today, it is filled with hundreds of boutique retail stores and lifestyle hangouts, including cafes, restaurants,bars and clubs.

There is also a large number of parks, sporting facilities, libraries, galleries and theatres nearby. It is for this reason that Newtown is so popular with a large variety of cultures and ages.

Haberfield is also an affordable option for first homebuyers wanting to live within 6km of the CBD. At a median unit price of just $275,500 it is located close to the city, amenities and the Roselle Hospital.

The suburb is often described as similar to Italy in the 1950s, as it has both modern and traditional Italian bakeries, and cafés and restaurants, too. It is also said that the main 'drag' – Ramsay Street – transforms into a food-lover's heaven every Saturday morning.

Haberfield is full of Federation-style brick homes, ideal for both families and young professionals. The suburb has adequate parking for those who drive, which is a bonus because it doesn’t have a train station. Residents can either take local buses into the city or drive to the neighbouring suburb of Summer Hill for the nearest train connection, located off Carlton Crescent.

Marrickville is 8km southwest of the CBD and adjacent to the popular suburb of Stanmore. It has a median unit price of $332,000 and is poised for some urban renewal over the next couple of years, Kusher says.

This area is traditionally working-class and it is becoming increasingly popular among young professionals and investors. Most of the streets are tree-lined and dwellings are usually small, single-storey cottages, red-brick Federation-style homes or fibro houses.

The popular café and restaurant strip along Marrickville Road is known for its Greek and Vietnamese influences.

Koulizos says there are plenty of amenities in the town, including numerous public and private schools.

"There is also an abundance of shopping in this suburb with the large Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre in the northeast section of it. There is also a large number of shops on Illawarra and Marrickville Roads," he says.

"And, there are three train stations – Marrickville Station is in the middle of the suburb, the one at Dulwich Hill is to the west and Sydenham’s is to the east."

Koulizos says it is best to buy properties with character or period-style features and with off-street parking in a wide street. Concentrate your search on places that could use some cosmetic renovation and those located closer to Stanmore.

Avoid any that are directly under a flight path or on the main roads.

Chippendale lies in Sydney's inner-west, next door to Redfern and Broadway just 3–5km from the centre of the city. It is the ideal location for young professionals working there and wanting to live close by, and highly desirable for the many international students who want to rent close to Sydney University, also nearby.

"Chippendale is avery popular with renters as it is right next to the prime suburb of Glebe, which has all the lifestyle aspects like the weekly Glebe Markets, restaurants and cafés," Koulizos adds.

Amenities like the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital are also within walking distance and Darling Harbour is just a short drive.

"The old Carlton United Brewery off Broadway is under redevelopment into 11 towers to include residential, commercial and retail premises – and this will increase activity in the suburb too," says Koulizos.

If you'd like to buy in the Chippendale area, stick to the western side of it where residential dwellings are concentrated. Koulizos advises steering clear of places right on Broadway, Cleveland Street, City Road, Regent Street and Abercrombie Street as they are all very busy.

Arncliffe lies 10km south of the CBD, next door to the prime suburb of Brighton Le Sands. It's a bit further out of the city centre near Sydney airport, but luckily, far enough away not to be greatly affected by aircraft noise.

Koulizos says some parts of Arncliffe are being re-zoned from industrial to residential to improve the suburb’s ethos. So if you're an owner-occupier wanting to buy a house or unit to renovate here, it is ideal territory. "There are opportunities for this because of the older-style properties it has – period-style unit blocks that benefit from some decent internal refurbishment.

If you're out to snap up a bargain here, go for a property that has views towards the city – Arncliffe offers this rare feature as it is quite a hilly suburb.

Avoid buying on any of the main roads especially the Princes Highway and Forest Road. Also be aware of the M5 which runs underground in Arncliffe, as this presents problems for redeveloping blocks of land.

Most of the cheaper inner-city units in Melbourne’s CBD lie to the west of it – which is not surprising, according to Kusher, as these areas have traditionally had a lower socio-economic reputation.

Footscray is just 6km from the CBD and is known for its postwar-type dwellings. Kusher says areas like Footscray are undergoing fairly substantial gentrification, which will undoubtedly encourage growth in the local market.

"Once the urban renewal kicks off in Footscray, the growth will flow on to areas like West Footscray and Seddon. These inner-city units make very good buying as they are all around or under $300,000. When you compare these prices to places like Brisbane and Sydney, these units are a lot more affordable as well," he adds.

Footscray has a huge variety of shopping, schools and amenities, and it’s also home to Victoria University and the Footscray Nicholson campus, the TAFE division of Victoria University. All these are easily accessible by public transport – buses, trains and trams.

Buying into these areas, however, you have to be realistic about the types of property you go for, as you can expect to get a one-bedroom apartment for under $300,000 and a two-bedroom one from there on up.

Concentrate your efforts on properties in the northern area of Footscray, Koulizos says. And the best region here is between the train station and Ballarat Road (but, he stipulates, not on Ballarat Road). The streets that run from east to west are also good catches as they tend to be wider, and they’re close to Victoria University and the Maribyrnong River.

Koulizos adds, however, to steer clear of main roads such as Buckley Street and the Princes Highway.

Fairfield, Thornbury
Kusher believes that Flemington, which is 5km from the CBD, Fairfield and Thornbury – 6km and 8km away respectively – all provide good buying areas, thanks to median prices that are below $305,000.

AA lot of these places have good transport via Melbourne’s tram system, which helps these inner-city areas substantially," says Kusher.

Fairfield lies in Melbourne’s northwest and it is split in two by the Darebin Creek arm of the Yarra River.

The Fairfield Industrial Dog Object (FIDO), opposite Fairfield Village, is a popular tourist attraction. The recycled hardwood and galvanised-steel art project was designed as a symbol of the connection between humans and pets – and often wags its tail and even speaks as passers-by stop to admire it.

Fairfield has a number of quality restaurants and motels as well as an adequate supply of educational facilities, shopping and parks. The town itself dates back to the 1980s.

Flemington is the home of the famous Melbourne Cup and lies just minutes from the centre of Melbourne. It is also only two train stops from Southern Cross station – which Koulizos likens to Erskineville in Sydney.

"There is great renovation opportunity here because of the older-style homes in the area, and the state government has targeted the place for urban renewal in the Melbourne 2030 Strategy," he adds.

If you’re looking to buy in the western regions of Melbourne, he advises you should make it your goal to focus on period-style homes with views to the city. Although, he adds, it might be as well to stay away from the Flemington Flats housing commission area.

Just 10km north of Melbourne lies the suburb of Coburg, which had a median unit price of $350,000 in September last year, according to results by RP Data.

It apparently has excellent access to the city by public transport (bus, tram and train), and is known particularly for its period-style homes.

The region is very popular with students attending the local LaTrobe University, RMIT and the University of Melbourne close by.

"Like other similar suburbs,Coburg has also been targeted by local councils and the state government for some measure of urban renewal, so there is plenty of public money being spent to upgrade the area," says Koulizos.

"Look for period-style homes in the lovely wide, tree-lined streets. But stay away from Sydney Road and Bell Street because of the noise of the traffic – that apparently goes 24 hours a day in this area," he states.

In Adelaide, a budget of $250,000 is likely to score you an existing two-bedroom unit in most of the suburbs within a 10km radius of the CBD. Hence its appeal to many first homebuyers and savvy investors over the past year and a half.

Clarence Gardens
If buying in Adelaide, steer clear of its northern regions, where lower socio-economic pockets might delay future growth potential.

"Instead, I would pick suburbs like Clarence Gardens to the south, just 6km to the Adelaide CBD," says Kusher.

Clarence Gardens lies in the City of Mitcham not far from the centre of Adelaide. It is apparently also within walking distance of the beachside suburb of Glenelg and an easy drive to the Belair National Park. This gives residents the best of both worlds and makes it appealing to owner-occupiers and renters.

Residents and visitors alike can travel through the national park on foot or by bike along established tracks. Just outside the national park there are amenities such as tennis courts, sporting ovals, picnic areas and Old Government House.

Royal Park
Another of Kusher's top picks was Royal Park. Although it lies to the north of Adelaide, it’s also about 10km out of the city and nearer the water in the Le Fevre area, close to Port Adelaide where the local redevelopment is going to benefit surrounding suburbs quite substantially.

Royal Park is 3km from Port Adelaide and surrounded by popular golf courses around West Lakes, Tennyson and Seaton. AAMI Stadium, Hendon Oval and the SANFL Football Park are also close by, as is the arterial Port Road for easy city access.

Nearby West Lakes is home to the region's main shopping centre – aptly called The West Lakes Shopping Centre – which is only 1km away from Royal Park. West Lakes and nearby Tennyson also provide Royal Park residents and visitors with beautiful beaches and waterfront locations. This means that buyers in the area can take advantage of lower median prices, and still enjoy the amenities of the more expensive suburbs alongside.

The median unit price in Royal Park as of September 2008 was $220,000 and the weekly median advertised rent was a solid $190.

Woodville Gardens
Woodville Gardens is the cheapest of all unit markets in the city of Adelaide, due mainly to its 'northern-region' reputation and close proximity to industry, says Kusher.

It has quite a few parks and open spaces, but all in all, it’s a smaller suburb. It is surrounded by others, namely, Ferryden Park, Angle Park, Mansfield Park, Athol Park, Kilkenny and Woodville North.

It lies around 8km from the city and around 6km from the beaches and water views characteristic of popular Semaphore. Even closer, however, is the development hub of Port Adelaide at only about 4km away – or five minutes in the car.

Woodville Gardens is within minutes – driving – of Regency Park Golf Course and Cheltenham Racecourse. Residents also have easy access to the arterial routes of South Road (A13) and Port Road (A7) which lead directly into the Adelaide city area.

Torrensville is next to Thebarton and the Adelaide CBD, and only a short distance from the sea. "This is a good place for first homebuyers to look for many reasons," says Koulizos. "It's right next door to Thebarton's developing 'eat street' at Henley Beach Road and it’s also very popular with young professionals because of its proximity to the city. It is popular with international students, too, because three out of the six university campuses are on North Terrace – which is 2km from Thebarton and Torrensville."

Torrensville is also next door to the prime suburb of Mile End and provides good opportunities for redevelopment, thanks to the many characterful, symmetrical stone-fronted cottages.

The median unit price in Torrensville was $307,500 in the month of September 2008, with a median weekly advertised rent of $290 – or 4.9% gross rental yield.

Avoid buying too close to factories and stay off South Road as it is amajor arterial route – and also steer clear of Ashwin Parade as trucks use it as a short cut.

West Hindmarsh
West Hindmarsh is next to Thebarton and only about 3km from the city. The beautiful River Torrens Liner Park runs through it, giving direct access to the city and the sea.

The median unit price here was about $270,500 in September last year, and vendors are currently advertising two-bedroom units closer to $300,000.

Koulizos says there are great opportunities to renovate because of the character-filled homes. He advises buyers to focus north of Port Road and, if they’re interested in redevelopment, to home in on the southern end where zoning is more favourable.

However, he says, avoid South Road and Port Road altogether.

The inner-city Perth market offers some very well-priced unit markets for first homebuyers, with most of the cheaper unit suburbs located within 7km of the CBD.

West Perth
West Perth, for instance, is just 2km from Perth CBD and is predicted to move up in price relatively soon, according to Kusher, off the back of a 6.7% fall in capital growth over the year to September 2008.

Still, West Perth had a median unit value of $270,000 for the month of September last year, which is $50,000 less than median unit prices recorded in Cannington, 10km from the CBD.

"West Perth is elevated with views and has Kings Park next door. The stock is older though, so be aware of this when looking in this area. But, to emphasis the more important point, I don’t expect prices will be this low for long," he adds.

Jolimont lies just 5km from the city and is due for an upgrade by the state government, says Kusher (although not yet announced), and may pay dividends for homebuyers getting into the current depressed market were growth has slowed. Jolimont decreased in value by 5.9% over the year to September 2008, taking its median unit price to $320,000.

"There has been urban renewal happening in Perth and South Perth so, strategically speaking, areas such as Jolimont are the next to be paid some attention. This provides good opportunities for first homebuyers and investors to get in early and benefit from it," says Kusher.

"The quality of stock in these areas is not as good as the south and east of Perth, although these places will move ahead in price, because they are the only parts left to experience growth. You are going to be buying one-bedroom units for the $300,000 range, but above that you will find quite affordable two-bedroom units as well."

East Victoria Park
East Victoria Park is one of the very few inner-city regions that has maintained some of its character homes and slick unit blocks. However, this shows in the price. The median value of units, according to RP Data for the September period 2008, was $397,500.

Researching the internet for up-to-date property listings, we find that many one-bedroom units in East Victoria Park are asking anything as low as $200,000, while two-bedroom ones are likely to sell for more around the $260,000 mark.

East Victoria Park is close to the southern end of the CBD and offers great opportunities for first homebuyers who can score a 'characterful' unit or house in the elevated part of the suburb, with views of the surrounding area as a bonus.

"Avoid the industrial section in the south east of East Victoria Park," warns Koulizos, "and stay clear of Bank Street and Shepparton Road."

Victoria Park
Victoria Park is just 4km out from Perth CBD, right next to East Victoria Park and adjacent to the Swan River. The prime suburbs of South Perth and Kensington surround it, thus putting a floor under the local property market.

"This suburb is full of older-style homes and units – and it breathes 'renovation opportunities for first-time buyers'," says Koulizos. "You really can't go past the desirable café strip along Albany Highway with its paved footpaths and trees with large shady canopies, cafés and restaurants."

Victoria Park has direct train access to the city and vendors are currently asking between $290,000 and $340,000 for a two-bedroom unit with a car space or garage, usually with a view overlooking Perth's scenic landscape.

Victoria Park is well known for its variety of active and passive parks that offer venues for everything from soccer, football, hockey and cricket, to more leisurely activities such as picnics, barbecues and weddings.

McCallum Park and Raphael Park are both located in Victoria Park, with Harold Rossiter Reserve situated in East Victoria Park.

If you're buying an investment unit in Canberra or intend to become an owner-occupier, there's one important factor that should be on your list of criteria – its distance to the CBD. Most of the action in Canberra is centred around its CBD in Civic, and the closer you are to it the better. This is because public transport in Canberra relies solely on buses which, unfortunately, aren't quite up to scratch for those having to use these facilities.

For this reason, Kusher advises buyers to focus their search on suburbs like Campbell (3km from the CBD), Curtin (6km away) and Belconnen (7km away), all of which have great amenities individually as well.

"The better inner-city units in Canberra are the ones close to Parliament House – either Parliament House or the city. There’s no mass-transit system so areas and properties near main roads and the city will do well in terms of capital growth, and also be better for tenants if you’re an investor," Kusher explains.

In September last year, Campbell had a median unit price of $300,000 and the average unit was advertised for $280 a week – a gross rental yield of around 4.9%.

Angus Howell, team leader of the Herron Todd White Canberra residential division, says Campbell is very popular with buyers, as prices offer a more affordable option than Canberra’s north.

"Campbell is close to the city and has older-style cottages on large blocks that people pay big money for," he states. "It's viewed as a bit of a 'sleeper suburb'," he adds, as property there is held tightly by owner-occupiers. "Units are also older-style," Howell explains, "and there's not a lot of new development going on."

Campbell has a good bus service, however, running about every half-hour beginning at the City Bus Interchange on Alinga Street, Civic.

Curtin was slightly more affordable during the month of September 2008, with the median unit price recorded at $274,500. The weekly median advertised rent stood a fraction lower than Campbell at $275 per week. However, despite the lower median, Curtin units provide investors with a substantial gross rental yield of 5.2%.

Curtin is just 6km from the Canberra CBD area, so it is extremely popular with young professionals, families and renters.

Amenities such as Curtin Park, Canberra Nature Park and John James Memorial Hospital are all in close proximity, within a three- to five-minute drive away.

Belconnen had a median unit price of a slightly higher $330,000 back in September of 2008, and the weekly median advertised rent came in at $350, or 5.5% gross rental yield.

Howell says there are a lot of unit developments going up in the suburb, thanks to increasing demand from buyers and renters.

"Belconnen is very well located as the suburb is also the town centre for the wider Belconnen area. The place has good amenities for residents and there is a high demand for unit accommodation by tenants – and also from investors – to show for it," Howell explains.

"Units in the Belconnen region rent quite well and are popular with owner-occupiers who work in the employment hub of Belconnen."

Belconnen is home to the major shopping centre, Westfield Shoppingtown, located on Benjamin Way, and Lake Ginninderra lies in the centre of the suburb on the southern side of the shopping centre. There are also a number of other retail centres surrounding the lake.

Belconnen is also home to the University of Canberra, the Canberra Institute of Technology, the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra Stadium,the Bruce Indoor Stadium and Calvary Hospital.

Koulizos's top pick of the most affordable suburbs in Canberra is Braddon, just 1km outside Civic, in the CBD. Braddon is adjacent to the suburbs of Turner and Reid and contains older-style units which respond extremely well to a bit of TLC and upgrading.

"Look for properties north of Haig Park and avoid Northbourne Avenue, which is the main road from Canberra to Sydney," he advises.

The median price for Braddon in September last year was $373,750. The slightly higher median was offset by outstanding median weekly advertised rent of $450, which equated to a very handsome 6.3% gross rental yield figure for investors.

A downward trend over the September quarter of negative 2.9% growth might lower prices slightly, but should not affect the high demand from renters in the area, which is producing the great rental yields.

Braddon has some great pubs, cafés and restaurants, along with vital amenities like schools and parks, retail and industrial precincts, and provides venues for a variety of social and recreational activities.

Howell says renters are paying big rents for units in the immediate city areas such as Braddon and Turner.

"There is a lot of new development going on in the inner city and, because they're so central, people are paying these rents. The unit market is certainly bigger there, and investors are getting better returns and higher capital growth for units than in the outlying areas," he explains.

Kusher says the key to buying well in Hobart is securing property close to the CBD and in waterfront locations.

"The waterfront areas in Hobart that are also close to the city and areas like New Town, Howrah and Rokeby can be great places to buy in," he explains.

New Town
This area is popular with families as it offers a range of public high schools and New Town’s close proximity to Hobart CBD means that residents and visitors have quick and easy access to facilities like the Royal Hobart Hospital.

New Town is also within walking distance of the CBD, making it easier for residents to enjoy events and lifestyle features like the Hobart Waterfront Celebration, Hobart's Aquatic Centre, the city's many parks, the weekly Salamanca Markets – and its seemingly endless supply of boutique and modern shopping, bistros and cafés.

New Town itself is known for its suburban-like shopping strip full of a mixture of both unique stores and large country-wide chains.

There is plenty of parking in Hobart, but this can also be a burden for people who own property along main roads. So buyers should also steer clear of places along main roads and major highways.

New Town is amply serviced with public transport buses provided by Metro Tasmania.

The median unit price for properties in New Town sat at an affordable $217,500 for the month of September last year. This is a 9.4% growth for unit prices over the past 12 months, also ending September 2008.

If you're willing to travel a bit further to get to the city, and to sacrifice proximity for unbelievably low prices and significant capital growth, you should look towards the suburb of Montrose, 8km from Hobart CBD.

Units in Montrose average around the $184,500 mark and have experienced a massive 15.3% growth in prices over the last year ending September 2008.

Montrose is full of classic weatherboard houses selling for under $250,000, and some newer units beginning at around $150,000. There are also quite a few 1960s-style red-brick houses starting around $215,000 for one with two bedrooms, one bathroom and a car space.

Montrose is home to the Montrose Yacht Club, and very close to the arterial Brooker Highway, which gives residents and visitors easy access to King George Fifth Park and Elwick Racecourse. The Brooker Highway also leads directly to the heart of Hobart, through Goodwood. Lutana, Cornelian Bay, Queens Domain (off Domain Highway), North Hobart and Glebe.

If you're buying in the area, steer clear of properties situated right on the highway, because of the noise.

North Hobart
North Hobart is just 1km away from the city and also the harbour. It is full of beautiful Georgian-style homes and unit blocks which, Koulizos says, each make up 50% of dwellings in the suburb.

Median unit prices there were around $334,000 for the month of September last year and vendors are currently asking around $300,000 for a two-bedroom unit with one bathroom and a car space or a garage.

"If you're looking to buy in North Hobart," says Koulizos, "watch out for a period-style home or a unit with character in any of the suburb's wide streets, as these respond well to renovations.

"It's worth going all out to get a property with views and one that's close to the cafés in Elizabeth Street," he adds.

If you're buying in North Hobart, however, stick with period-style units or houses in wide thoroughfares – and particularly in close proximity to restaurants and cafés in Elizabeth Street. Koulizos says the most popular streets tend to be Newdegate and Browne.

Although it is a good idea to buy close to Elizabeth Street, Koulizos recommends you steer clear of the eastern side of it where there are lots of warehouses and live industry. He also suggests it's best to avoid buying anything that's east of Argyle Street.

Koulizos also has a good word for the suburb of South Hobart, which is right next door to the prime ones of Sandy Bay and Battery Point, and very close to the University of Tasmania.

Vendors of properties located in South Hobart are asking a very affordable $340,000 to $360,000 for a three to five-bedroom, character-filled home. But, if you're focusing your search on South Hobart, just make a point of avoiding the light industrial precinct next to the Hobart Rivulet.

The inner-city unit market in Darwin is fast becoming a popular area for first homebuyers and investors to score great buys. Hence, the median unit prices have begun to increase to between $243,000 for the low end of the market to around $325,000 for the more desirable suburbs.

Stuart Park
Stuart Park, located just 2km from the CBD in Darwin offers a wide range of units, ideal for first homebuyers living or investing in the area. Vendors in Stuart Park are currently asking between $240,000 for an older-style two-bedroom apartment, all the way up to $400,000 for a newer two-bedroom one.

"Stuart Park is so close to the city and has the advantage of looking over Charles Darwin National Park, which is a major drawcard," explains Kusher.

Stuart Park achieves an even more impressive yield for investors – of 7.0%, or $390 per week – providing a good cash-flow position for first-time investors buying in at medians of $290,000.

Nightcliff (8km from Darwin CBD) and Coconut Grove (7km away) are also extremely popular because of their waterfront locations.

The median unit price for Nightcliff was recorded at $245,000 for the month of September last year, while Coconut Grove came in at a slightly higher $296,250. Both suburbs offer decent rental yields, for those thinking of buying for investment purposes.

Nightcliff achieves around $270 a week in rent, which translates to a gross rental yield of 5.7%. Coconut Grove gets a weekly median advertised rent of around $350 and a gross rental yield of 6.1%.


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